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For European Christian Unity

Hello everyone, from the Northwest Arkansas Airport. I’m about to start a long journey that won’t end until I’m in Paris tomorrow morning. I’ll be there promoting the French-language version of The Benedict Option. [1]Details of my planned appearances in the city are below. If you are a Parisian reader of this blog, I hope to meet you.

Here’s a speech that Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the foreign minister (in effect) of the Russian Orthodox Church, gave last week in London, on the Christian future of Europe. [2]Excerpts:

 

The contemporary state of religious life in Russian society is directly linked to the tragic events of 100 years ago.

The historical catastrophe of 1917 embroiled Russia in a fratricidal civil war, terror, exile of the nation’s best representatives beyond the confines of their homeland, and the deliberate annihilation of whole layers of society – the nobility, the Cossacks, the clergy and affluent peasants.

They were declared to be “enemies of the people,” and their relatives were subjected to discrimination and became the “disenfranchised,” which forced them to the edge of survival.

All of this terror took place under the banner of a communist ideology that fought ferociously against religion.

Millions of believers were subjected to the cruelest of persecution, harassment, discrimination and repression – from mockery and dismissal in the workplace to imprisonment and execution by firing squad.

The Church in those years produced a great multitude of martyrs and confessors for the faith who, as St. Paul said, “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment” (Heb 11.35-36).

Discussion on the future of Christianity in Europe is impossible without understanding the prospects for the survival of religiosity among its inhabitants.

Research carried out by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Cornwell Theological College, USA, indicates that the number of Christians in Europe will be consistently falling: from 560 million people in 2015 to 501 million by 2050.[6]

The calculations of the Pew Research Center are more pessimistic and foretell a reduction in Christians in Europe from 553 million people in 2015 to 454 million people by 2050.[7]

These are alarming prognoses, but they reflect the current trends in the transformation of the religious picture of Europe, and they cannot be ignored.

Some are suggesting that, unless special force is applied, Europe cannot simply cease to be Christian on the grounds that Europe has for many centuries been Christian.

I would like to remind you all that in Russia before 1917 nobody ever proposed that the collapse of a centuries-old Christian empire would happen and that it would be replaced by an atheistic totalitarian regime. And even when that did happen, few believed that it was serious and for long.

The modern-day decline of Christianity in the western world may be compared to the situation in the Russian Empire before 1917.

The revolution and the dramatic events which followed it have deep spiritual, as well as social and political, reasons.

Over many years the aristocracy and intelligentsia had abandoned the faith, and were then followed by common people.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia spoke of this in January 2017: “The fundamental rupture in the traditional way of life – and I am now speaking… of the spiritual and cultural self-consciousness of the people – was possible only for the reason that something very important had disappeared from peoples’ lives, in the first instance those people who belonged to the elite. In spite of an outward prosperity and appearance, the scientific and cultural achievements, less and less place was left in peoples’ lives for a living and sincere belief in God, an understanding of the exceptional importance of values belonging to a spiritual and moral tradition.”

Met. Hilarion says, “I firmly believe that a Europe which has renounced Christ will not be able to preserve its cultural and spiritual identity.” He speaks of ways in which secular authorities drive traditional Christians from the public square, under the guise of human rights. More:

In a situation where we have aggressive pressure of the groups which propagate ideas unacceptable from the perspective of traditional Christian morality, it is essential to unite the Churches’ efforts in opposing these processes, to act jointly in the media, in the sphere of legal support, as well as in propagating common Christian values at all possible levels.

It is important that the Churches share their experience in this sphere, and develop cooperation between church human rights organizations and monitoring centers.

I believe it important that Christians of Europe should stand shoulder to shoulder to defend those values upon which the life of the continent has been built for centuries, and that they should view the afflictions and dismay of Christians throughout the world as their own.

Read the whole thing.  [2]

The Catholic Herald in the UK responds.  [3] Excerpts:

The Metropolitan also focuses on another factor that has led to a change in the religious landscape of Europe: large-scale immigration from outside Europe, and in particular from the Middle East and Africa. While he does not suggest that this migration should be halted or can be halted, here Metropolitan Hilarion finds himself in the opposite corner to the Pope, at least in the question of tone. For Hilarion, immigration is a challenge or even a threat, but for the Pope it is the opportunity to welcome the stranger. Indeed, more or less at the same time as Hilarion was speaking, Pope Francis was warning against the “temptation of exclusivism and cultural fortification.”

His strong words are clearly coming from a different perspective from Hilarion’s, and yet it would be a mistake to see these points of view as mutually exclusive. The truth is that Hilarion is right: if we admit large numbers of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, then the character of Europe will change. The only question is how will it change, and whether this change will be a good or a bad thing. Again, there can be no dispute that Christians have a duty to welcome the stranger, as the Pope says, and that ethnocentrism is not the Christian way. But this does not answer the question of how we welcome the stranger, nor does it address the question whether the best way to help people and their countries is to let them enter Europe, rather than helping them at home.

That’s striking, the stark difference between the way the Pope sees the migration crisis, and the way the Russian Orthodox Church sees it. About the Metropolitan’s call for in the last few grafs I quoted above, the Catholic Herald says, piquantly:

That sort of conclusion resembles what Catholics have been saying for years, and is very welcome, though how this will work out in practice is unclear, given the fact that the Russian Church seemingly never challenges the Russian government, which is guilty of numerous human rights abuses.

Metropolitan Hilarion’s speech is certainly interesting, and in many ways challenging. On many topics, he hits the nail on the head, but in practical terms, where do we go from here? An honest discussion about Ukraine would be a good place to start.

Good point. Still, Met. Hilarion is quite right overall. I hope that in my own small way, with The Benedict Option in its various forthcoming translations into European languages (German, Czech, Slovak, Portuguese), will in some small way help to encourage and to strengthen ties between faithful small-o orthodox Christians in Europe. Again, if you are in Paris, I hope you will be able to come out to one or more of my talks in the coming days, so you can meet others interested in the Benedict Option:

And also these, in smaller venues. Copies of the book will be available for purchase:

SUNDAY OCT 1:

11h30 : Conférence de 20-30 minutes
Crypte St François
Sous l’église St Sulpice
35 rue St-Sulpice, 75006 Paris

MONDAY OCT 2:

20h00 : Conférence de 30 minutes à la Paroisse Cathédrale Saint-Irénée (orthodoxe)
96, bd Auguste Blanqui 75013 PARIS – Métro Glacière

TUESDAY OCT 3:

19h00-21h00 : Mardi de Limite
60 Rue de Rome, 75008 Paris

WEDNESDAY OCT 4:

20h30 : Soirée-débat
Paroisse St Ferdinand des Ternes
27 Rue d’Armaillé, 75017 Paris
Librairie Art Religieux – M. Bizard – 26 rue Armaille 75017 Paris

29 Comments (Open | Close)

29 Comments To "For European Christian Unity"

#1 Comment By Pat On September 27, 2017 @ 8:34 am

Have a good time and enjoy every minute – you’ve certainly earned it!

#2 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 27, 2017 @ 8:59 am

Actually there’s not a great correlation between preserving Europe’s identity and religiosity. Some of the toughest immigration policies in Europe, and some of the most intense resistance to mass migration, are happening in extremely secular countries like Denmark and the Czech Republic. And contrariwise the current Pope, as much as I respect him, has policies on migration that I think are overly liberal and unhelpful.

That being said, it may be the case that as Europe shifts in a tougher direction towards immigration, and becomes more restrictive of migration and more intent on preserving ethnic identities, it’s the role of Christians to serve as the European conscience, to moderate these passions and to remind us that group survival must not come at the cost of the welfare of refugees and other suffering people.

#3 Comment By Caroline Nina in DC On September 27, 2017 @ 9:20 am

Rod, I hope after all this travel you will get a break. I get worried about your health when you start running around like this! Get rest and eat well.

#4 Comment By Gromaticus On September 27, 2017 @ 9:39 am

I hear Paris has some damn fine eateries 🙂

#5 Comment By Anonymous Bosch On September 27, 2017 @ 9:59 am

>”The historical catastrophe of 1917 embroiled Russia in a fratricidal civil war, terror, exile of the nation’s best representatives beyond the confines of their homeland, and the deliberate annihilation of whole layers of society – the nobility, the Cossacks, the clergy and affluent peasants.”

One of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read recently was Douglas Smith’s “Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy”. Hard to think of a more terrifying phrase than “former people”.

#6 Comment By mdc On September 27, 2017 @ 10:10 am

“nor does it address the question whether the best way to help people and their countries is to let them enter Europe, rather than helping them at home.”

This seems a bit like evasive sophistry. ‘Letting them in’ and ‘helping them at home’ are obviously not contrary alternatives. When it comes to immigration, the alternatives are: let them in or keep them out. The point of the evasion, presumably, is to keep away from sight the state violence entailed by the second alternative.

#7 Comment By Sam M On September 27, 2017 @ 10:19 am

““I firmly believe that a Europe which has renounced Christ will not be able to preserve its cultural and spiritual identity.”

The question a cynic will ask is… would anyone care? What are the specific elements of cultural and spiritual identity that people would miss?

As for spiritual identity, it’s not as if there’s any strong desire to preserve it. Christ IS their spiritual identity. So the statement is kind of a tautology.

“A Europe which renounces Christ will not be able to preserve their relationship to Christ.”

Well, no. They renounced it. Christ asks too much of them. They don’t want it anymore.

At least they think they don’t. Some of the downstream cultural stuff they might care about. But which ones, honestly?

The error of their calculation is that they can keep things as they are now. “Submission” seems to argue otherwise. But even the point of that seems to be… they wouldn’t care.

#8 Comment By Tito Edwards On September 27, 2017 @ 10:38 am

Have fun!

#9 Comment By Rob Maloney On September 27, 2017 @ 10:41 am

I have no confidence in shallow ‘Christian’ identity. For most people in Europe, it is nominal. Few go to church, pray, read the Bible, and when you get down to it, really believe. Russian Orthodoxy suffers from the same problem. Many may say they are Orthodox Christians, but don’t practice, or really believe. Also, RO is entangled in Russian nationalism. Sure, some Europeans may rally around their Christian ‘identity’ in the face of increasing numbers of Moslems, and organize around it. But it will have nothing to do with religion, just ‘us vs. them.’

#10 Comment By Michelle On September 27, 2017 @ 11:51 am

Paris. Lucky you! Hope you have a safe and productive trip.

#11 Comment By charles cosimano On September 27, 2017 @ 12:12 pm

Ah, there he goes again, off to the land of cow snout, bad wine and Olympic track teams that are trained by people who speak German because we all know the best way to get a Frenchman to run is to speak German.

And while he is off sitting on his laurels (Never sit on your laurels, they hurt, keep them on your head where they belong.) the loyal followers of his blog will gnash their teeth in frustration of missing their usual dose of indignation, as if we are not capable of being indignant ourselves if we try and some of us are very trying under the best of circumstances.

Ok, I had to have some fun but have a good trip, make some hairs stand on end and do try not to end up in the middle of a terrorist attack.

#12 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 27, 2017 @ 12:40 pm

Hey that’s right! Its the 100th anniversary of the Glorious October Revolution! Must plan some sort of celebration!

The cruel hubris and pride of a series of generals with the personality of Donald Trump and the military training of Erich Ludendorff embroiled Russia in a fratricidal civil war, destroying the entire industrial plant on which any sort of productive economy, or any semblance of a working class, had to rest.

Those who fled into exile in the first few years were hardly the nation’s best… just a pack of parasites who couldn’t stand that they weren’t going to be living off the labor of others any more. Sort of like, if Gone With The Wind ended with Scarlett having to leave Tara forever, because the estate WAS after all divided into 40 acre lots for the freed slaves and the poor white trash alike.

After that, things went downhill for a variety of reasons, all of them tragic. Eventually, an attenuated communist bureaucracy was replaced by an undisguised kleptocracy. And the church hasn’t really risen above any of this, so is it any wonder people fail to find God in the ruins?

#13 Comment By Anne On September 27, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

Contra Met. Hilarion: What happened in Russia 100 years ago wasn’t the culmination of cultural, moral or religious changes occurring within a democratic setting, as with much of Western Europe today, but a violent reaction to social, economic and political breakdown within a weakened autocracy undergoing the traumas of war. The center didn’t hold for many reasons, and the tsar and tsarina’s religious eccentricities didn’t exactly help shore up confidence in Christian sanity right then. But loss of faith per se and changing sexual values were hardly the key driving force behind what happened there. Moreover, the ethnic hatreds of the region originated directly from Russian imperialism, while the current crisis in Western Europe is due only secondarily to the effects of imperialism, but directly to war in the Middle East and the acute need to settle migrants who have been displaced by those ongoing hostilities, which Russia, ironically, has been helping exacerbate. In other words, with all due respect, he should probably not be one to talk. With any authority, at least.

#14 Comment By AnnaH On September 27, 2017 @ 4:13 pm

Christians of the West, unite! 😉

#15 Comment By dfb On September 27, 2017 @ 6:06 pm

Metropolitan Hilarion’s presentation on September 23 in London included the following:

“Often the language of hatred in relation to Christians is used when Christians insist on their right to participate in public affairs. They enjoy the same right as much as it is enjoyed by adherents of any other religion or by atheists. However, in practice it is not like this: dozens of instances of discrimination against Christians on the grounds of their beliefs are registered every year. These instances are highlighted by the media and become a topic for public discussion, but the situation as a whole does not change as a result.”

On April 20, the Russian Supreme Court, in a suit brought by the Russian Justice Ministry, ruled that the Jehovah’s Witness national headquarters in St Petersburg and all 395 local organizations “extremist”, banned all their activity immediately, and ordered their property seized by the state. Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation provides: “Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to freedom of conscience, to freedom of religious worship, including the right to profess, individually or jointly with others, any religion, or to profess no religion, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious or other beliefs, and to act in conformity with them.”

On April 29, Metroplitan Hilarion issued a statement that the decision of the Russian Supreme Court defining Jehovah’s Witnesses as an “extremist association” was made without any consultation with the Orthodox Church and said “The Church does not appeal for heretics, members of sects or dissenters to be prosecuted. However, the decision to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses is to be considered a positive act in the fight against the spread of sectarian ideas, which have nothing in common with Christianity…There is no doubt that sectarians will remain and continue their activities, but at least they will stop being openly on the same floor with Christian confessions, and that is a good thing.”

On May 2, Metropolitan Hilarion appeared on the television program “Russia 24” and said “This is a totalitarian and dangerous sect. I am deeply convinced, having had more than once the opportunity to speak with members out of the sect. The members of this association are dangerous because they approach people on the street and offer their literature, presenting themselves as a Christian group. In fact, their activities are based on the manipulation of consciences. They erode the psyche of people and families…they deform Christ’s teaching and falsely interpret the Gospel. Their doctrine contains many lies: they do not believe in Jesus Christ as God and Savior, they do not recognize the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and therefore cannot be called Christians.”

Christian unity? Religious liberty? Something must have been lost in the translation.

#16 Comment By Carl Eric Scott On September 28, 2017 @ 2:31 pm

Beautiful cover!

#17 Comment By Pussilaminous On September 28, 2017 @ 5:34 pm

Interesting to me that according to Pew, Europe is still 74% Christian. You would never know that from reading all these descriptions of the “de-Christianization” of Europe. Europeans still seem to self-identify with Christianity, regardless of all signs to the contrary.

What really seems to be the issue is the intensity of their identification, and the intensity of their beliefs in Christianity’s central peripheral dogmas, and the degree to which they practice Christianity. And the proportions of those who believe in and practice either traditional, orthodox Christianity, or a more modern, liberal interpretation.

I would gather that a large majority of that 74% are not very intense in their practice or beliefs, and that their identification with Christianity is more a matter of family, ethnicity, and self-image rather than a deep commitment to practice of the faith itself. I wonder if there’s been polling that can measure such things.

#18 Comment By PapayaSF On September 29, 2017 @ 6:29 pm

Pope Francis warns against the “temptation of exclusivism and cultural fortification” while living in a walled fortress in a country with some of the strictest immigration requirements in the world… ::rolls eyes::

#19 Comment By LesB On September 29, 2017 @ 9:19 pm

Rod, what’s your view of Putin? He’s very friendly toward the Russian Orthodox Church, but also a rather nasty tyrant. That is, his religious beliefs (assuming they are sincere), don’t seem to have done much for his moral character. And when the Soviet Union was still in existence, he was a strong supporter of communism, in spite of its suppression of religion.

[NFR: Not a fan, but, as with Trump in the US, I can see why many people in Russia are. — RD]

#20 Comment By William Tighe On September 30, 2017 @ 8:24 am

LesB wrote:

“Rod, what’s your view of Putin? He’s very friendly toward the Russian Orthodox Church, but also a rather nasty tyrant. That is, his religious beliefs (assuming they are sincere), don’t seem to have done much for his moral character. And when the Soviet Union was still in existence, he was a strong supporter of communism, in spite of its suppression of religion.”

Let’s change it a little:

Rod, what’s your view of Constantine? He’s very friendly toward the Church, but also a rather nasty tyrant. That is, his religious beliefs (assuming they are sincere), don’t seem to have done much for his moral character. And when the Tetrarchy was still in existence, and his father was alive, he was a strong supporter of it, in spite of its suppression of Christianity.

And, concerning dfb’s question, I wonder if Russia also suppresses Scientology (as do some Western European countries).

#21 Comment By Rob G On September 30, 2017 @ 10:32 am

“Hey that’s right! Its the 100th anniversary of the Glorious October Revolution! Must plan some sort of celebration!”

Sounds like the 20-something SJW I talked to a couple weeks ago who wishes that Trump and his entire family would die in a plane crash.

Because nothing signals how “glorious” something is going to be like killing a bunch of kids.

Communism showed its ugly hand pretty damn early, and the rest of the world should have known better than to be taken in by the “jeweled armor and well-trimmed beard.”

#22 Comment By Rob G On September 30, 2017 @ 10:38 am

“Christian unity? Religious liberty? Something must have been lost in the translation.”

Fyi, many traditional Christians consider the Watchtower a cult or at least cult-like. They’re not just another fundamentalist sect. Thus the Metropolitan isn’t incorrect, despite the somewhat impolitic verbiage.

#23 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 1, 2017 @ 6:42 am

Sure, some Europeans may rally around their Christian ‘identity’ in the face of increasing numbers of Moslems, and organize around it. But it will have nothing to do with religion, just ‘us vs. them.’

Do you really think things were any different in the medieval era? Or for that matter among secular liberals today, who simply replace ethnicity and religion with political ideology as their tribal delineation? A lot of people treat ideology (secular or religious) as a sort of tribal identifier, and they always have.

Rod, what’s your view of Putin? He’s very friendly toward the Russian Orthodox Church, but also a rather nasty tyrant

Putin is a very bad leader of Russia, mostly because the substantial economic growth over which he’s presided has gone entirely to the upper half of the income distribution, and mostly to the very rich. (The bottom half of the Russian population is actually worse off today than they were during the late Soviet Union era, although better off under the American ally Boris Yeltsin).

#24 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 1, 2017 @ 7:03 am

This seems a bit like evasive sophistry. ‘Letting them in’ and ‘helping them at home’ are obviously not contrary alternatives.

They very obviously are contrary alternatives, because resources are fixed, and every dollar you spend on welcoming a refugee or immigrant into your country and providing them with services is one dollar that you can’t spend “helping them at home”.

In reality, welcoming mass immigration (of which refugees are a subset) is an insanely inefficient way of spending your money. Sweden spent 1.4% of its GDP providing services to ‘assimilate’ refugees in 2015. (The number of refugees they took in that year was about 35k, and presumably those services also went to provide for refugees who had come in previous years, so let’s say at a very generous estimate a couple hundred thousand people). For the same amount of money you double the income of every man, woman, and child in Niger, a country of 17 million people, while at the same time helping them cut down the high fertility rates that are going to be creating serious problems with them in the future. You can educate five times as many children in Central America, and probably twenty (I’ve seen varying estimates) in Africa, for the cost of one in America or Europe: why would any serious thinker expect that welcoming immigrants is a rational way of solving the developing world’s problems? The answer is because they (and apparently you) aren’t interested in serious thinking or genuinely solving problems, you’re interested in signaling that you’re anti-racist and that you welcome a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society.

In reality, the same European politicians who have been encouraging mass migration to Europe and praising the virtues of multiculturalism- Angela Merkel and Macron, for two- have also been refusing to increase foreign aid budgets to Africa, in Macron’s case explicitly because he doesn’t think they can spend it properly.

Helping Africans, Asians and Middle Easterners at home, as opposed to allowing or encouraging them to move to Europe, would allow us to help far more people and have a greater impact, with the additional benefit of preserving ethnic identity and social solidarity in both Africa and Europe.

When it comes to immigration, the alternatives are: let them in or keep them out. The point of the evasion, presumably, is to keep away from sight the state violence entailed by the second alternative

Immigration doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and of course if you spend money on welcoming immigrants you can’t spend that money on foreign aid to Africa. That having been said: yes, if you choose to look at immigration on its own, the options are to keep them out or let them in. As far as Europe goes, I was on the fence a few years ago and much more ‘torn’ than I am today, but watching the events of 2015 unfold cured me of that vacillation, and I’m not at all evasive about what I’d recommend. If European nations want to preserve their ethnic and cultural identities they need to keep most immigrants out and keep immigration at a low and manageable level. To the extent that’s not possible, immigration and refugee flows should be directed to a couple of the most tolerant and richest countries, so at least most European countries, if not all, can resist rapid demographic change. This is going to require tough laws and enforcement (i.e. what you refer to as ‘state violence’) but it’s also going to involve large scale foreign aid flows in order to increase incomes, reduce fertility rates and improve standards of living in the developing world.

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 2, 2017 @ 10:42 pm

Rod, what’s your view of Constantine? He’s very friendly toward the Church, but also a rather nasty tyrant.

Indeed. Take down all the statues of Constantine. He ruined Christianity.

Sounds like the 20-something SJW I talked to a couple weeks ago who wishes that Trump and his entire family would die in a plane crash.

Rob G, how many times do I have to remind you how Lenin dealt with his own SJW’s, more properly known as infantile disorders?

Lest some be led astray by your knee-jerk bleeding heart reflexes, I note that on balance, the Soviet Union was an abject failure. I play up the values of international communism at times, because:

1) After the Warsaw Pact bloc fell, it turns out capitalism is still just as bad as the commies always said it was, and as Hector often points out, a lot of east Germans would like their wall back — to keep the west out.

2) At the time, there was a genuine and widespread working class movement that admired the October revolution because, after many failures, often drowned in the blood of “the white working class” by monarchists and liberals alike, Lenin actually, you know, won.

3) There were many beneficial things accomplished by rank and file communists, who worked long hours for little compensation out of no motive but love of their fellow man, and I honor them for it.

4) As Dorothy Day told a priest after becoming a confessed Roman Catholic, “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs” is still a good paradigm to work toward.

Leninist party organization is a failure on its OWN terms, without reference to bourgeois fears. It failed to assure fidelity to original principals, particularly when the man at the helm was anyone but Lenin. So no, that’s not something to emulate. But there are far older and more enduring principles and aspirations to pick up and carry forward.

#26 Comment By mdc On October 3, 2017 @ 9:02 am

“why would any serious thinker expect that welcoming immigrants is a rational way of solving the developing world’s problems?”

Not sure- I certainly don’t think that. Massive wealth redistribution, which you recommend, seems like a great idea. I just don’t see what one thing has to do with the other.

‘A dollar spent on x is a dollar not spent on y’ is trivially true for any outlays on any x and y whatever.

#27 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 3, 2017 @ 10:28 am

After the Warsaw Pact bloc fell, it turns out capitalism is still just as bad as the commies always said it was, and as Hector often points out, a lot of east Germans would like their wall back — to keep the west out.

Well, I don’t think I put it in exactly those terms. And what ‘East Germans’ want today is somewhat distorted by the fact that East Germany has such a weird demographic structure, since so many eastern Germans migrated to the west after 1991 (just as the communists had predicted they would). It’s certainly true though that Eastern Germans have grown increasingly nostalgic about the GDR and increasingly dissatisfied with the west. Partly due to the disappointing performance of post-1996 capitalism (as well as, even more so, the 20% contraction of the economy in 1990), and more recently partly because of cultural aspects of the west that they don’t like.

As for your first point: pretty much, more or less. “We already knew that everything the communists told us about communism was a lie. Now we know that everything the communists told us about capitalism was true.”

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 3, 2017 @ 8:06 pm

P.S. I always have, but now I am REALLY loaded to take on anyone who claims that Rod censors all points of view except his own. He gets a Voltaire Award this time. I’m looking forward to a jovially snide remark from Carlo or Giuseppe.

#29 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 7, 2017 @ 12:25 pm

What I recall Hector is that you cited a popular t-shirt in the easter portion of Germany, saying “I want my wall back.” But I think we agree on the substance, we’re just quibbling over the decorations.